The data you’re about to read defies logic and calculation. The Quint has deep-dived into two sets of data shared by the Election Commission of India (EC); first, the voter turnout/votes polled data on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and second, the votes counted data on EVMs in the Lok Sabha Elections 2019. We have found serious discrepancies in the two sets of data in 373 constituencies which went to polls in the first four phases of the election.
- In Kancheepuram, Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu, the EC data says 12,14,086 EVM votes were polled, and 12,32,417 EVM votes counted – a surplus of 18,331 EVM votes. Why? No answer from EC.
- In Dharmapuri, Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu, the EC data says 11,94,440 EVM votes were polled, and 12,12,311 EVM votes counted – a surplus 17,871 EVM votes. Why? No answer from EC.
- In Sriperumbudur, Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu, the EC data says 13,88,666 EVM votes were polled, and 14,03,178 EVM votes counted. A surplus of 14,512 EVM votes. Why? No answer from EC.
- In Mathura, Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, the EC data says 10,88,206 EVM votes were polled, and 10,98,112 EVM votes counted. A surplus of 9,906 EVM votes. Why? No answer from EC.
These are four of highest surpluses in the data.
Of the 373 constituencies polled in the first four phases, there were surplus votes counted in over 220 of them – in the rest, vote deficits were recorded.
EC Pulled Down the Votes Polled Data After The Quint Demanded Answers
The Quint has taken into account only the first four phases – the EC website clearly stated “Final Voter turnout of Phase 1,2,3 and 4 of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019”.
We did not delve into phase 5, 6 and 7 data of votes polled because the EC’s website mentioned it as ‘estimated’ data.
Early on 27 May, The Quint had emailed the EC questions on the discrepancies in all 373 constituencies . An EC officer even contacted us saying that they will send a reply soon. By afternoon, on the same day, we found that the ticker mentioning “final voter turnout” mysteriously disappeared from the EC’s website eciresults.nic.in.
When we asked the EC why the ticker and the data has been removed from the website, there was no response.
Later in the evening, we got an email from the EC clarifying the votes polled of only one constituency. The EC also said that this data is not complete and it might be revised later.
We again wrote to the EC demanding answers for the discrepancies in other constituencies. We attached with our email all the documents on phases 1 to 4 – all votes polled data downloaded from the EC’s official website. But EC’s reply is still awaited.
We also made several attempts to meet senior EC officials to get answers on such a serious issue, but no officer agreed to meet us.
The question is, is it not surprising that four days (27 May) after the counting is over, the EC is still claiming to The Quint that the vote polled data is being compiled? Why is the EC taking so much time to compile the votes polled data?
As per procedure, on polling day, it is the duty of the Presiding Officer to inform their senior about the votes polled data every two hours. So it shouldn’t take more than a few days to upload the votes polled data.
The Quint spoke to former chief election commissioner OP Rawat about the discrepancies. He said:
“Prima facie, it appears to be a serious issue. I am not aware of any such occurrence (where votes polled didn’t match with votes counted) in the past, that is, during my tenure as chief election commissioner.”O P Rawat, Former Chief Election Commissioner
Below we have listed state-wise the top constituencies that we found had surplus votes. These four states are Tamil Nadu, Bihar, UP and Arunachal Pradesh.
Constituencies With Surplus Votes Counted
AIADMK’s candidate K Maragatham lost Kancheepuram seat to DMK’s Selvam G. Maragatham’s office informed The Quint that they are aware of the discrepancies in votes polled and counted. As of now, they are collecting relevant documents, based on which they will decide their next course of action.
Experts say the candidates can demand a recount if votes counted don’t match the votes polled. The discrepancies in the two sets of data might not impact the winner. But there are larger questions here –
One, why did the EC upload votes polled data as final data for the first four phases? Two, why did they remove the data? Three, why is the EC silent about these discrepancies, do they have something to hide? And last, what is causing these significant discrepancies... are EVMs malfunctioning?
BJP Hema Malini won this seat by securing 6,67,342 votes, leaving the runner-up Kumar Narendra Singh of Rashtriya Lok Dal way behind with 3,77,319 EVM votes.
The BJP candidate Sushil Kumar Singh won the Aurangabad seat with 4,29,936 EVM votes, while the first runner-up Upendra Prasad from Hindustani Awam Morcha secured 3,58,611 EVM votes.
Former Union Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju of BJP, won the Arunachal Pradesh Parliamentary constituency with 63.02% vote share. The Congress candidate Nabam Tuki was left way behind with merely 14.22%.
The Quint has earlier reported on a similar mismatch in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections held in November 2018. Out of 230 Assembly constituencies, the data of number of votes polled and number of votes counted did not tally in 204.
According to an EVM expert, there shouldn’t be a mismatch of even a single vote and if a mismatch surfaces, the EC officer on counting duty should immediately flag it to his seniors.
It is a very serious issue, and the EC should provide an explanation as soon as possible in the public interest, to maintain the transparency and integrity of the election process, the expert said.
“This is very disturbing as I have read that three former CECs – SY Qureshi, N Gopalaswami, HS Brahma – are reported to have said that the EC should explain these discrepancies. That is the only way the credibility of the EC can be restored.”Jagdeep Chokker, Member, Association of Democratic Reform
Experts Stumped By Constituencies That Saw Vote Count Deficit
In the case of surplus votes, the EC’s standard defence had been that this was simply estimated data, and so was liable to increase (leaving aside that its own website identified the data as ‘final’ data).
The former chief election commissioner Rawat says, “The vote polled data will always increase, not decrease.” The reason for this is that the estimates for turnout are given based on data collected on polling day. By the end of polling day, this number is sure to have risen.
Now, can the EC explain this: If the current vote polled data is not the final data, and the votes polled number is likely to increase as more data becomes available, then how did the votes counted end up less than the votes polled in some constituencies?
Will the EC clarify the deficit vote count? Will EC explain the delay in uploading votes polled data after counting has concluded? As per procedure, the Presiding Officer in the polling booth has to update the EC about the total votes polled every two hours on polling day – why has it taken over a month since polled to get the final data?
Countries That Have Banned EVMs
Developed countries like Britain, considered the mother of democracies, do not use EVMs. Rather, they still rely on the paper ballot system.
In Germany, EVMs were introduced in 2005. The Federal Constitutional Court in a 2009 judgment held that the use of EVMs was unconstitutional. It also observed that the practice lacked transparency.
Many other countries like the US, France and Netherlands have also banned the use of EVMs. The only form of electronic voting used in the US is fax or email.